ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 24, 2017 – U.S. farmers will harvest 14.065 billion bushels of corn this year, down 7 percent from a record 15.148 bushels estimated for the 2016 crop, USDA projected today at its annual Outlook Forum. Soybean and wheat output is also expected to fall.

About 90 million acres will be planted with corn, the nation’s biggest crop, 4 billion fewer acres than last year, USDA said, as farmers seek higher returns from other crops such as soybeans. Corn prices at the farm gate are expected to average $3.50 a bushel for the new crop, up a dime from the 2016-2017 crop year.

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Here are USDA’s predictions for other major crops:

--Soybean production will fall to 4.18 billion bushels, from the record 4.307 billion bushels estimated for 2016. Yields are expected to drop to 48 bushels per acre from 5e2.1 bushels per acre last year, offsetting a big increase in planted acreage (88 million acres planted vs 83.4 million in 2016.) Cash prices are seen average $9.60 a bushel, up from $9.50 for the 2016 crop.

--Wheat production for the 2017-2018 marketing year is seen dropping by 20 percent, to 1.837 billion bushels, on expectations of both lower planted area (46 million acres, down from 50.2 million) and yields (47.1 bushels per acres, vs 52.6 bushels). The season-average farm price, however, is seen rising to $4.30 a bushel, from $3.85.

--Rice will also see a substantial drop in production – 11 percent – to 199 million cwt, from 224.1 million cwt. Planted acreage is expected to decline 17 percent from last year to 2.6 million acres. Average farm-gate prices are expected to average $10.70 per cwt, up from $10.50.

--Cotton farmers will produce about 17 million bales this season, slightly higher than the 16.96 million estimated for the previous season, according to USDA projections. While planted acreage is expected to jump 14 percent, to 11.5 million acres, yields are seen falling almost 5 percent, to 816 pounds per harvested acre. Cash prices will average 65 cents a pound, down from 69 cents a pound, USDA said.

USDA says that among the three major crops – corn, soybean and wheat – relative fundamentals favor soybeans, “particularly with expectations of continued growth in China’s soybean imports.” In contrast, USDA says, corn is faced with only moderate growth in corn used for ethanol production and strong export competition from Argentina, Brazil and Ukraine.

For wheat, USDA says, “continued large global supplies will maintain tough export competition.”


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